Poem by Sonya Bui ’21. Illustration by Emma Yang ’20.

i don’t like crying
in front of other people

especially not with a

border the size of a stegosaurus

between my world
                                         and theirs

or a constant reminder of
saving face
                                         oh no, look, another breakout!
                                         did she gain weight?
to save your family’s grace.
                                          how’s she doing? no bad grades?

forget about saving face.

i’m saving faces

in my memory.

the polaroid frames i brought
don’t help much:

there the faces are stuck
in singular fragments

—snatched right out of

a european restaurant
my living room perhaps
or that one particular sunrise
with purple smashed into blue
and the grass feasting
on the morning dew
underneath my bare feet—


i close my eyes
the faces fade
along with the all-too-familiar gestures
and twists and turns of the streets
the names of which
stick on the tip of my mother tongue

the way a chocolate ice cream cone melts between your fingers
then drips down and stains your favorite shirt
and stays there stubbornly no matter how many times you bleach it

not wanting to escape.

who’s there to listen?
what’s there to listen to
once all’s lost in translation?

i open my chat boxes
then the recorder

then somewhere between five and eight and twelve hours
i call
or elsewhere

and hope
some faces

on the other side
without crying.